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Local transmission of Zika confirmed in South Florida

One woman and three men are believed to have contracted the virus through mosquito bites in Miami.

By
Stephen Feller
Four cases of locally-acquired Zika virus in South Florida have led to the state's Department of Health going door to door in a one-mile area of Miami urging people to take precautions, as well as collecting urine samples to determine if there are more cases in the area. Photo by Kitsadakron_Photography/Shutterstock
Four cases of locally-acquired Zika virus in South Florida have led to the state's Department of Health going door to door in a one-mile area of Miami urging people to take precautions, as well as collecting urine samples to determine if there are more cases in the area. Photo by Kitsadakron_Photography/Shutterstock

MIAMI, July 29 (UPI) -- The Florida Department of Health confirmed four cases of Zika virus in Miami-Dade and Broward counties have a "high likelihood" of being locally transmitted.

Health officials believe the virus was acquired in a one-mile area of Miami, though no mosquitoes the department has trapped have tested positive for Zika yet, according to a press release.

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The U.S. Food and Drug Administration on July 28 requested all blood establishments in both counties stop collecting blood immediately, before state officials made the announcement the cases were locally acquired, and has asked blood centers in neighboring counties to exercise extreme caution when accepting donors.

The agency also asked blood centers to implement a program using Zika screening tests before they begin collecting blood again.

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"We learned today that four people in our state likely have the Zika virus as a result of a mosquito bite," Florida Governor Rick Scott said at a press conference Friday morning. "All four of these people live in Miami-Dade and Broward Counties, and the Florida Department of Health believes that active transmissions of this virus could be occurring in one small area in Miami."

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Health officials are going door to door, advising residents in the Wynwood, Edgewater and Beverly Terrace areas to clear standing water and take precautions to prevent mosquito breeding and avoid bites from the insects. The health department is also collecting urine samples from residents in the area to determine how many more people have contracted the virus.

Scott allocated $26.2 million dollars for Zika preparedness, prevention and response in the state last month, with plans to increase spraying and mosquito abatement efforts, increase assistance for blood banks to establish Zika screening and increase outreach to both residents and tourists.

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Three new travel-related cases of Zika were reported by the health department, bringing the total number of cases in Florida to 386, 55 of which involve pregnant women.

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